TRADOC opens app store to host official Army mobile applications

By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command has created its own app store to bring official Army apps to Soldiers on the go.

“Everybody has a mobile device these days,” said Lt. Col. Joseph A. Harris Jr., TRADOC capability manager for mobile learning, or TCM Mobile. “They are using those devices to go and search for whatever apps that they may need at the time. So we are trying to quench that thirst and provide them with something that is official — from TRADOC and from the Army.”

TCM Mobile provides centralized management and governance for the Army’s mobile learning initiatives and has created the TRADOC Application Gateway, or TAG, to host unclassified, non- “for official use only” apps and interactive digital publications.

Proponent-approved information

One of the missions of TCM Mobile and the motivation behind creating the TAG is to provide Soldiers with Army-approved information.

Anybody can create an app and put it in a commercial app store such as Google Play, the Apple Store or the Windows Store. And though many of those apps are informative and helpful, a Soldier has no way of knowing if that information is doctrinally sound.

“Pick any subject matter having to do with soldiering, and have five different people teach that exact same concept. You are going to have the thoughts and processes of each of those five people vary. You don’t want to have five different apps on the same thing with different spins on each one,” said Matthew MacLaughlin Jr., TCM Mobile’s senior mobile instructional design specialist. “What we try to do is to cut out all of the bias and give the (Army) community a mobile application that is — at its core — functional and true to the proponent information. We want to cut down to the honest-to-goodness information put forth by the proponent that we want everybody to have, and then let the NCO and the Soldier who is utilizing the information in the field put their spin on it to make it pertinent to their needs.”

TCM Mobile’s branding on apps in the TAG allows Soldiers to easily identify them as official Army apps. The gold border and Army emblem in the lower right corner makes them easily recognizable but still allows each app to maintain its own look.

“When a Soldier goes to the TAG, that Soldier knows that app is approved by the proponent – the school or entity within the Army that is in charge of that information,” said Ken Crim, TCM Mobile deputy. “You can go to the Apple Store right now and get 11 apps on the Army physical fitness program. None of them have been approved by the Army. So you are rolling the dice. ‘Am I getting good information or not?’ And that is just a physical fitness program. Do I really want a Soldier going and getting a non-proponent-approved application on fire control? Heck no. So that is why TCM Mobile was established.

“If I am a staff sergeant or a platoon sergeant in a training situation, I need to know that I’m sending my Soldiers to a source of Army-approved information. If you use unofficial information for training, that could come back to bite you. Do you really want to take that risk?”

TRADOC Application Gateway

To access the TAG, Soldiers may visit tag.army.mil and log in with their Army Knowledge Online username and password. A common access card may also be used to access the site, but it is not required. The TAG App, which allows you to download other Army apps, can be downloaded upon your first visit to the TAG with your mobile device.

There are about 90 apps on the TAG as of March 2016. Some of the most viewed include a Performance Triad app, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention apps, resiliency resource apps and Army Comprehensive Doctrine guides. Many more apps that have been created at the Army’s centers and schools are being vetted and will soon add to the TAG’s numbers. Though most of them may also be found in other app stores, Harris said TCM Mobile hopes the TAG will soon become Soldiers’ one-stop-shop for Army mobile applications.

“Our goal is for the TAG to become the single place a Soldier should go to find an Army- or TRADOC-approved mobile application. We think over the next couple months it will continue to mature at a fast rate, and will be a great resource for Soldiers to find useful content,” said Brian Robertson, program manager.

Have an idea for an app?

If someone has a great idea for an app that would meet the needs of an Army organization, they can work with TCM Mobile to create it and get it on the TAG. They have the option of creating the app themselves, or TCM Mobile’s team of developers may take on the job.

Information on the TCM Mobile website explains the process of submitting apps. Before making it to the TAG, they must both be verified by the proponent and tested to determine they contain no malicious code that could damage a user’s mobile device.

“If Soldiers have great ideas, they can visit our website to learn how they can get their idea or their mobile app on the TAG – and get credit for it. If you created it, we want to give you the credit for creating that app through the proponent,” Harris said.

There are so many Soldiers out there with great ideas, MacLaughlin said. They may want to solve an issue within their unit by creating a mobile application, but they are not sure where to start or how to go about it. TCM Mobile hopes to work with those individuals to realize their ideas and get them on the TAG, where the entire Army can benefit.

“This has been a very big, collaborative effort across the board to not only be able to provide Soldiers with what they need and want, but to be able to do it in such a way that we are safeguarding the Soldier, safeguarding the information and safeguarding the mobile devices,” Crim said.

Photo illustration by Spc. James Seals from photo by C. Todd Lopez.

Digital Job Book for Soldiers debuts

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

The Army’s new Digital Job Book, which makes it easier for Soldiers and small unit leaders to track training, was made available today on the Army Training Network.

The new job book records physical training, weapons qualification, mandatory training, scheduled classes and unit training schedules. It uses data from the Digital Training Management System to replace information recorded on paper job books for active duty, reserve and National Guard units.

To access the job book, go to the ATN page (https://atn.army.mil) and click on the myTraining tab at the top of the page. Then you will see the Digital Job Book under the DTMS heading. You also can access the Digital Job Book from Army Knowledge Online. Click on the Self Service tab and then the My Training tab.

In February, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Johnson, command sergeant major at Combined Arms Center-Training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, talked to the NCO Journal about the impetus for bringing back the job book in digital form.

“When I was a young — well, I never was a young Soldier because I enlisted late in life — but when I was a junior enlisted Soldier, we were issued a little job book that was about the size of a three-by-five card that was probably seven or eight pages,” Johnson said. “You carried it around in your uniform pocket, and as you successfully performed a task, your sergeant would sign off in the job book. The goal was to complete all the tasks, and that was your certification that you were qualified.

“The digital capability allows us to follow a Soldier throughout the life cycle of a Soldier, throughout their career,” Johnson said. “The analog book, it would get lost, it would get damaged, if you moved from one unit to another, you sometimes had to start over. The capabilities with the digital job book allow Soldiers to track and show proficiency throughout their time in the service.”

Johnson said the digital job book should give Soldiers some awareness of where they stand in relationship to their peers, sparking competition and inspiring Soldiers to work harder to be proficient at required tasks.

“It will help enable Select, Train, Educate and Promote (STEP),” Johnson said. “You can use this as a leader to see where your Soldiers are at on a certain skill, to give you quantifiable data to recommend them for promotion or not. It will be a great tool for leaders to use that way.

“It also has potential in the future to enable credentialing, licensing and certification for Soldiers,” Johnson said. “If a Soldier is looking to receive a license, credential or certification, the leader can load those tasks into the Soldier’s job book, then track the completion of those tasks. And it also has the ability to track re-occurring tasks. Say you’re a medic and you have to re-certify on a medical task to keep your credential, this would notify the Soldier that they are due to re-certify on the task.”

Data from the job book allows leaders to easily monitor unit training and quickly add training tasks to units and individual Soldiers.

Small unit leaders can follow their Soldiers’ training status on the Digital Leader Readiness Tool dashboard. The Digital Leader Readiness Tool is also accessed at the ATN My Training Tab and the DTMS portlet.

The Digital Leader Readiness Tool is available for small units and designated leaders once built by the unit in DTMS. The Digital Leader Readiness Tool provides an electronic dashboard summarizing small unit training information using gauge-type displays.

Leaders can select any of the gauges to get to by-name reports about their Soldiers meeting training standards and needing to complete training requirements.

If you have questions about the Digital Job Book or the Digital Leader Readiness Tool, you can e-mail: usarmy.leavenworth.cac.mbx.dtmshd@mail.mil. You can also call 913-684-2700, or 877-241-0347.

Mike Casey of Combined Arms Center-Training contributed to this report. Photo illustration by Spc. James Seals with original photo by Mike Casey.

Army resiliency program helped MMA fighter in cage and as Soldier

By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

After winning “The Ultimate Fighter 16,” Sgt. 1st Class Colton Smith struggled to reach the next level in his professional fighting career. An Army program designed to build resilience is helping him get there.

Smith has been working with Bradley Williams, a Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Master Resilience Trainer performance expert, several months before he won “Ultimate Fighter” in December 2012.

Smith lost his next three Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, the last one in late 2014. Since then, he competed on the local circuit and signed with the World Series of Fighting last year.

“I’ve been on a win streak and a lot of that is due to my mental game, my mental program with the CSF2,” Smith said.

Sgt. 1st Class Colton Smith and his corner Sgt. 1st Class Jeremie Oliver visited Bradley Williams, a Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Master Resilience Trainer performance expert at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
Sgt. 1st Class Colton Smith and his corner Sgt. 1st Class Jeremie Oliver visited Bradley Williams, a Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Master Resilience Trainer performance expert at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

The CSF2 is part of the Army’s Ready and Resilient program. Through online services and consultations with Master Resilience Trainers and performance and institutional enhancement experts, the CSF2 helps boost the resilience and performance of Soldiers, their families and Department of the Army civilians.

During a recent consultation, Williams talked with Smith about his breathing and managing his heart rate. They also explored opportunities for biofeedback, in which a machine measures and displays a patient’s vital signs so he or she can control the physiological responses resulting from high-intensity activities such as actual combat or mixed-martial arts matches.

“We’ve talked about breathing a lot before, but I never really talked about heart rate itself,” Williams told Smith. “It’s something that I’ve been diving into more with Soldiers, and it’s certainly going to apply to fighting as well.”

Williams recommended a book, “On Combat” by retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, that describes the psychological and physiological effects of combat on the human body.

“But combat isn’t the only scenario where the body is doing all kinds of things under pressure,” Williams said. Grossman “calls them different condition levels based on heart rate. He talks about Condition Black being potentially the most dangerous. When our heart rates get above 175, a lot of things go out the window — from our ability to process mentally, which obviously matters so you’re making the right decisions in the cage; tunnel vision. …”

“Oh yeah, I used to have that,” Smith said. “For my first fights, it was actually a benefit, but the guys weren’t at the same level.” As his opponents’ skill level increased, losing awareness of the whole octagon started to catch up to Smith. He had to work to calm himself to maintain regular perception.

The eyes can begin to skew depth perception and the ears can start to exclude some sounds and voices, Williams said. Depth perception is critical to striking targets and auditory exclusion can keep a fighter from hearing advice from his corner.

Smith has been checking his pulse and using diaphragmatic breathing — breathing from the belly — to reduce his heart rate quickly. He recently started yoga classes to boost flexibility and breathing control.

“My last fight, my vision was amazing and I could hear every single thing my cornerman said,” Smith said. “Depth perception was probably a little off. As I watched the video, I should have been a couple inches further in and I would have been able to tag the dude a lot more.”

Williams and Smith also talked about pre-fight routines and how to control them — maintaining a sense of calm while still keeping energy levels high, as well as preparing for the things that can go wrong and not letting them mess with Smith’s mental preparation.

For this visit, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremie Oliver went with Smith to see Williams. Oliver is an instructor at the Fort Hood Combatives School, where Smith is the NCO in charge. During his last several fights, Smith has also had Oliver in his corner. Oliver has been taking care of logistics for the fights and anything having to do with commissioning or promoting the fights.

“It’s been awesome,” Smith said. “Instead of wondering what corner’s going to take care of that, I know he’s going to take care of it, so it’s been phenomenal.”

Williams wanted to explore how Smith’s team can help him with his fight, and Oliver was eager for the advice.

CSF2_2Oliver met Smith when Oliver competed in the 2013 Fort Hood Combatives Tournament. Smith had already won “Ultimate Fighter,” so when Oliver advanced past intermediate matches he asked for some advice.

“I still remember,” Oliver said. “He said, ‘If your back’s up against the cage, you’re losing.’ ”

After that, they became friends, and when Smith needed help in the corner, Oliver volunteered.

“I organize all his training and get the other coaches on board,” Oliver said. “I get it from being an NCO — that leadership role of organization, pulling things together.

“When it comes to competition, the competitor shouldn’t have to worry about the little stuff — how we get to the venue, the route we take to the locker room, who’s going to wrap his hands, what time the photoshoots are, what time the interviews are,” he continued. “Even as far as our rehydration plan after weigh-ins — we have a very intricate, scientific setup when we go. After weigh-ins, I start a clock and I have all his supplements already mixed and all he has to do is drink them. He has a lot on his mind at that point. I can’t even imagine what goes through his mind. So I try to minimize some of that and make him as comfortable as possible.”

That help is one of the things that keeps Smith at his best in the cage. But it’s support that Smith, Oliver and the rest of the instructors carry over into the combatives school, as well, and they have all realized the benefits from the CSF2.

“It’s been extremely beneficial for myself and all my instructors,” Smith said. “I was really blessed to be in contact with the CSF2 program here at Fort Hood. That has brought my game to another level, as a Soldier as well. It’s unbelievable what they do for prep for [the Expert Infantryman Badge], for gunnery, for deployments, for Soldiers who are having trouble focusing before they go to a school like air assault.”

Combatives plays important role at Fort Hood

By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

The Modern Army Combatives Program’s story began at Fort Benning, Georgia, but a significant part of its future is being written at Fort Hood, Texas.

The Fort Hood Combatives School’s chief instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Colton Smith, is also a professional mixed martial artist and signed with the World Series of Fighting after several Ultimate Fighting Championship fights and a victory on the reality show “The Ultimate Fighter 16.” The post’s combatives team won the All-Army Combatives Championship three years in a row. And the school’s reputation draws professional fighters and aspiring mixed martial artists from throughout the region, including from Austin and Waco.

“At Fort Hood, we’ve been blessed with III Corps commanders and sergeants major who understand that [combatives] is a big deal,” Smith said.

Combatives2Smith believes strongly in the myriad benefits of the combatives program to Soldiers, some obvious and some subtle. Clearly, Smith has benefited from the fighting skills the combatives program imparts on Soldiers, and he attributes most of his professional success to his time being trained in and training combatives.

“I’m obviously very passionate about it. I don’t do combatives or promote combatives to be a professional fighter,” he said. “I am a professional fighter; however, that’s because of combatives. I’ve been able to fight at the top level because of the Army Combatives program, no other reason. The Army Combatives program has taught me how to fight against some of the best athletes in the world and still be a Soldier at the same time.”

Even outside the cage, though, Smith says combatives has benefited every aspect of his life. He has attended Ranger School, Sapper School, Airborne School and Air Assault School. He also completed all four levels of the Army combatives program, before levels 3 and 4 were merged into the master trainer program, and he completed special operations combatives training.

“I’ve been blessed to go through a lot of the military’s training, …” he said. “What’s changed me the most, as a leader, as a man, as an athlete, is the Army combatives program. There’s no other skill in the Army that’s going to teach you the discipline that Army combatives does, as well as the confidence.”

Combatives4That confidence is one of the most important benefits of the combatives training, Smith said.

“When you have a Soldier who’s never been in a fistfight before, and he has to achieve the clinch in the option 3 drill, you see his confidence rise,” he said.

Smith says that as he watches Soldiers move through combatives courses and graduate to the next levels, he can see their leadership abilities grow along with their confidence. The physical presence and resilience they’re building can’t help but be reflected in their character, as well.

And that saves lives. Of course, Soldiers trained in combatives are better able to defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat, but they also have the confidence to de-escalate many situations without resorting to violence or weapons, Smith said.

Downrange in Iraq and Afghanistan, Smith said, “You’re around people and you don’t know who the enemy is a lot of times.” Having combatives skills and confidence in them can mean the difference between opening fire and creating enemies and entering a tense situation confident enough to diffuse it, winning hearts and minds.

But if those people are the enemy, it might also be the difference between life and death.

Combatives1“You never know when [someone is] going to attack you, grab you, grab your weapon,” he said. “You get shot at? Your weapon gets hit, now your weapon is down: What are you going to do? You don’t know, because a majority haven’t learned how to properly fight.”

Sgt. 1st Class Jeremie Oliver, an instructor at the combatives school who also serves as a cornerman during Smith’s professional matches, said, “We’re not teaching people how to fight. I think that’s the biggest misconception.”

Instead, he says, combatives training boosts mental capacity and makes Soldiers more comfortable in their jobs regardless of military occupational specialties.

“There are a lot of Soldiers who come through our program — the level 1, the level 2 — who come back and say, ‘I never realized I could be put in an adverse situation and still move forward,’” Oliver said.

Overcoming adversity isn’t always about physically fighting your way out, Oliver said. He pointed out that the combatives school has offered specialized training to military police intended to simulate domestic violence situations, among the most dangerous calls law enforcement officers receive. But the combatives school was tasked with teaching officers how to calm two people down without resorting to violence.

“It’s not all about shooting somebody or beating somebody up,” Oliver said. “There are escalations of that training. And I think the Army needs to push that. We can use these techniques and spur on training. The horizon is unlimited.”

Combatives5Although Smith and Oliver served in the infantry, many of the other instructors at the combatives school have varied backgrounds, Smith said.

“It’s not just infantry or combat-arms [Soldiers] who are doing combatives or teaching combatives,” he said. “Some of my best instructors come from the soft-skilled MOSs.”

Smith said instructors at the school include an ammunition handler, a cardiology specialist, a medic and a Soldier from the signal corps. They are hand-selected by the school, because of their background in martial arts or other disciplines or because of their passion for combatives education and training, Smith said.

They are all encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities at Fort Hood – including Air Assault School, the Combat Leaders Course and the Small Arms Master Gunner Course. All of the instructors are Army Basic Instructor Course certified, and a stint at the school offers opportunities to attend Ranger School, Sapper School and Airborne School.

“When they leave here and they go back to their units, they’re going to be better Soldiers because of it, …” Smith said. “They’re going to go back to their unit and be not only a force-multiplier because of their combatives techniques but a force-multiplier because of the extracurriculars they’ve done.”

The Fort Hood Combatives School is a Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility, one of the few operated by Soldiers, Smith said. As an MWR facility, the school offers services to Soldiers and their dependents, and its reputation has drawn visitors from law enforcement, the Secret Service and several “three-letter federal agencies,” Smith said.

“They understand what we’re doing here is working,” he said.

Combatives3Staff Sgt. Luis Carter has been an instructor at the combatives school since 2014.

“Of course I can’t speak for the other posts, because I’m not there, but I will say that we do have the best combatives program out there,” he said and smiled.

He attributes the success of the Fort Hood program to the dedication of the staff.

“We all enjoy what we do here,” Carter said. “Everyone brings something to the table, whether it be they wrestled, whether they boxed, whether they flat out just have the desire for combatives. And I think that is what is the most important component. We all love what we do. We’re here all day from the time PT starts to 20-hundred.”

For his part, Carter practiced jiujitsu for 10 years before starting at the school. Since being selected as an instructor, he has picked up boxing and muay thai skills.

From its inception in the early 2000s, the Modern Army Combatives Program has focused on what were determined by the Army to be the most effective martial arts skills, including elements from jiujitsu, judo, wrestling and kickboxing.

“Those are the most practical applications for hand-to-hand engagement, whether you’re downtown at the bar defending yourself or your battle buddy or you’re overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and in close quarters,” Smith said.

As the head of instruction, he has worked to hone those skills while developing other techniques and martial arts. He says he has worked with civilian instructors and other agencies to enhance instruction for the school’s students and its instructors.

“It’s a perishable skill, it’s just like land-navigation or weapons firing,” Smith said. “I’m really big on remolding and looking outside the box to make our Soldiers more lethal.”

For instance, civilian muay thai experts often teach classes on the Thailand martial art’s striking and grappling techniques during the lunch hour.

“We’re here during lunch!” Carter said. “During lunch, we’re still training. This is life. This is more than just a job. We do this all day. I think that’s where we separate ourselves from most combative schools.

“There isn’t any one of those students who can’t come here after work and say I need help and we’re going to be on the mat with them,” said. “They can come in at 5:30 in the morning, crust in their eyes, haven’t brushed they’re teeth, haven’t eaten breakfast: ‘Sergeant, I need help.’ No problem, I’ll put my PTs on, let’s go get on the mat.”

Former NCO burned in IED blast wants to open restaurant, empower veterans

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Former Staff Sgt. Bobby Henline has spent nearly nine years trying to empower wounded warriors such as himself. Now he wants to help employ them.

Henline is working to open a restaurant dedicated to hiring veterans in San Antonio, Texas. The location is not far from the medical facilities he frequents at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, where he has received treatment since 2007 for burns that cover nearly 40 percent of his body. Henline was burned in a roadside bomb blast in 2007 in Iraq that killed the four Soldiers he was riding with. Since then, he has undergone 46 surgeries and six months of rehabilitation. His likeness is permanently altered.

On his arduous road to recovery, Henline found comfort and strength in humor. He has enjoyed a newfound career as a stand-up comedian, telling his story on stage as a coping mechanism. Henline found that taking others along on his journey has helped other injured — and sometimes disfigured — Soldiers face their lives with the same exuberance. He hopes his new venture takes that notion a step forward.

“I’m trying to give back,” Henline told People Magazine earlier this month. “This is a great way to do it, through empowerment and food.”

Henline is partnering with Richard Brown, a Marine and Korean War veteran, who owns a hamburger restaurant in San Clemente, California. The restaurant is one of Henline’s favorite stops, not only because of the savory hamburgers but also because the two men share an interest in helping their fellow veterans.

Brown will teach Henline all he needs to know to run his own business. Henline will solely hire veterans to work at the restaurant.

“It’s not just me getting a restaurant,” Henline said. “It’s me learning to fish, it’s me teaching other veterans how to fish and to continue on to help the stability of other veterans not just myself.”

‘That’s all I remember that day’

Henline has only a couple vivid memories of the day his life changed.

It was April 7, 2007, and Henline was part of a convoy that was making stops at various forward operating bases, or FOBs, delivering supplies and transporting Soldiers north of Baghdad, Iraq. He was a part of the 82nd Airborne Division and was weeks into his fourth deployment.

“We were doing the typical, ‘Get the convoy ready,’ that morning,” Henline told The NCO Journal in 2014. “There are two things I remember. One was that there were two Soldiers in the vehicle who normally didn’t ride with me. I also remember getting a second cup of coffee. The S-4 captain, who was sitting behind me, he wasn’t there yet. So we were sitting around waiting, and I ran and grabbed another cup of coffee while we were waiting on him.

“That’s all I remember that day.”

Henline’s vehicle was at the front of the convoy traveling near the Diyala province village of Zaganiyah when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath it. The blast hurled the humvee nearly 50 feet down the road. Four Soldiers — Capt. Jonathan Grassbaugh, Spc. Ebe Emolo, Spc. Levi Hoover and Pfc. Rodney McCandless — were killed instantly. When fellow Soldiers reached the vehicle, they found he was severely injured, but alive.

Two weeks later, Henline emerged from a medically induced coma at Brooke Army Medical Center at San Antonio, thus beginning a medical odyssey filled with painful moments, both physical and emotional.

But one thing came easy to him — humor.

Henline says laughter helped keep spirits high for him and the medical personnel working with him. It also helped his wife, Connie, and the rest of his family cope with their loved one’s ordeal and changed appearance.

“Joking around at the hospital, that was my way of using my sense of humor to let my family know I was OK, to let staff know I was OK,” he said. “It was how [I chose] to deal with the pain during physical therapy, laughing about it, joking with the other patients. I could see my family worrying. My mom couldn’t even get me a drink. She was shaking just trying to put the straw to my mouth, real scared. So it was kind of like, ‘Don’t worry, I’m still here. Even if today I’m kind of groggy.’ I’d still make a little joke to let them know, ‘It’s OK. I’m inside here. I just can’t move right now.’

“I think when I was talking a lot better and able to sit up and stuff, that’s when they were finally like, ‘OK, he’s still in there. He’s back. He’s still being that goofball.’”

From surgery to the stage

Henline spent almost the next two years working to regain a sense of normalcy.

His face was scarred by the burns he suffered and puffed by various skin-graft surgeries. His left ear was gone; his right was reduced to a rough-hewn stub. His smashed left hand eventually became too painful to bear, and he asked doctors to amputate it. After removing the protective goggles he was forced to wear for a year, it took time to get accustomed to the stares.

While jokes helped, Henline couldn’t shake the notion that he needed to heed a call. He just didn’t know what it was. Then his occupational therapist made a “stupid” suggestion.

“One day she told me, ‘You should try stand-up comedy!’” Henline said. “She has this really high-pitched voice, one of those happy people all the time. ‘You’ve got to try stand-up comedy. You’ve got to try it!’ I’m like ‘That’s stupid. It’s not going to work. This, here at the hospital, is funny. We could joke about it here.’ I wasn’t gonna go up on stage and people are gonna go, ‘Oh, you got blown up in Iraq? That’s funny.’”

Henline said he grew up admiring comedians such as George Carlin and Robin Williams. But he never considered actually taking a stage. However, after a steady stream of good-natured pestering from his therapist, he obliged, sealing the deal with a pinkie swear.

“My occupational therapist’s sister lives in L.A., and she’s in a band,” Henline said. “So one day, I’m going out there for a consultation to see a doctor. She tells me, ‘My sister’s in entertainment. She might know a place you could try it while you’re out there.’ Sure enough, her sister calls me and says, ‘Hey. Comedy Store. Go sign up at 5 o’clock.’”

Henline’s very first set took place August 2009 at the famed Los Angeles club on the same stage graced by some of comedy’s biggest names. He returned to San Antonio and began performing open-mic sets three nights a week. A year-and-a-half later, he was in Los Angeles when a chance meeting with a talent agent landed him an appearance in the Showtime documentary “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor.” The film, released in April 2013, follows Henline and four other veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan as they work with comedy A-listers to explore their experiences through the healing power of humor.

Three years later, Henline is still healing. He wants to continue to help others do the same. He says one of the biggest driving forces behind him is the memory of his fellow Soldiers who didn’t come home with him that fateful day.

“It’s that same old thing, you’ve got to drive on,” Henline said. “Survivor’s guilt was really bad for me in the beginning. But you’ve got to live on for those who don’t live anymore, the guys who sacrificed it all. There were four other guys in that humvee who didn’t make it. I sat on the couch, and I felt sorry for myself. I gave up. But what’s that doing for them? I’ve got to live on for them. Any of them would trade places with me. They’d rather be in pain and look funny and be here. Their families would rather have them back. That’s a big push for me that helps drive me on.”